During a three-hour hearing Tuesday held by the US Senate Homeland Security Committee's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, lawmakers questioned PGA Tour Chief Operating Officer Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dunne about the proposed merger with Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
During a three-hour hearing Tuesday held by the US Senate Homeland Security Committee's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, lawmakers questioned PGA Tour Chief Operating Officer Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dunne about the proposed merger with Saudi-backed LIV Golf.1
Subcommittee chairman Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has been critical of the deal, particularly over the Saudi Public Investment Fund's (PIF) stake in the merger. When asked how much the PIF would invest, Price said it would be "North of [$1B]."2
The deal has faced accusations of "sportswashing," with both Blumenthal and ranking member Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) calling out the Saudi Regime's alleged assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. However, Johnson added that the PGA shouldn't be blamed for Saudi's alleged crimes.1
Price confirmed that once the deal closes, LIV CEO and longtime PGA critic Greg Norman would likely lose his lead spot at LIV, with PGA commissioner Jay Monahan taking over as CEO and PIF Gov. Yasir Al-Rumayyan — who will reportedly receive memberships at both the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and Augusta National — becoming the chairman.1
Documents released ahead of the hearing also showed that the merger would see both Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods own LIV Golf teams and play in 10 LIV events a year.3
The hearing also brought 9/11 into the discussion, as the Saudis have been accused of playing a role in the attacks. While Dunne said he would meet with relatives of victims present at the hearing, Johnson called for more documents to be released on the terror attacks.1
Narrative A, as provided by Washington Examiner. The PGA has found itself in quite a self-made predicament. While claiming this move is only a business venture to stay afloat, lawmakers rightfully called out the potential dangers of handing managerial power over to the Saudi regime. As mentioned by GOP Sen. Josh Hawley, this also raises questions surrounding whether the PGA will disregard human rights and national security by conducting deals with China or Russia in the future. The PGA has a long way to go to prove it won't let money blind it from its humanitarian and security obligations.
Narrative B, as provided by NBC. While the PGA has certainly cowered in the face of financial depletion, it's not like the Saudi government had all the cards here. The Saudis still couldn't gain all the TV rights needed to broadcast their events, and it's not like the PGA actually owns any of the major tournaments like the US and British Opens. For those reasons and more, this was actually a smart business deal for the betterment of the players and the sport overall.